Pom Pom was not his real name. No one actually knew his real name except perhaps the clerks in the payroll office. He told all and sundry that he was Pom Pom and it stuck.
Pom Pom, who was a man of a certain age, was on staff from when the Casino on Paradise Island opened in 1967. He was Haitian, and then as now they ended up with the most menial jobs available. His was to be a sort of housekeeper/busboy. It was a very low profile calling and this was emphasized by his uniform which was black.
He tended to potter around the room, cleaning ashtrays, picking stuff up from the floor and removing empty glasses and bottles from around the slot machines and gaming tables. He made sure that no one ever had cause to complain about his performance.
He worked very hard to establish a persona, something he did extremely successfully. Late at night when the business was winding down and many of the tables were closed, he would drink from the abandoned glasses. He was not subtle about it. It wasn’t just that his supervisor would not be around that late, he intended to be seen.
The people he wanted to notice his behaviour were all the old American supervisors and pit bosses who were heavily experienced and who had come not only from Vegas but also from other gaming Meccas like Steubenville and Cuba. They thought they knew every thing. They didn’t.
Once they had seen his pretend show of ducking down behind a closed crap game and knocking back all the half filled glasses while being “caught” and giving them a broad wink or a sly grin, he was established as a harmless drunk. He wasn’t.
There was no madness in his actions. He was a clever and daring man, and he had seen an opportunity. In those days there were no surveillance cameras in the Casino, so the only people watching him were those experienced Americans who now had him tabbed as an alcoholic. He may well have been, but most of the drinks he so theatrically consumed were probably melted ice by the time he reached them. Even so the unusual combinations must have tested his constitution.
With nearly all his work finished he would sit at one of the closed blackjack tables far from the remaining action and slump forward with his head on his hands. This was another routine which he had to establish for his character. He would mostly sit as near to the drop box as he could get.
Eventually he was ignored, which of course was what he wanted. With the stage set he became a fisherman. The rod he used was a long pair of surgical forceps and the fish were hundred dollar bills.
It was later surmised that he tracked those games which had a decent amount of cash in their boxes so the funds would be less likely to be missed. This went on for a long time.
It ended due to the most likely and usual reason: greed. Ripped bills started turning up during the counting process, probably because he was trying to get bills that for one reason or another had got stuck. This at last made management do some serious thinking and he was duly caught red handed.
Based on the time he spent with us he was estimated to have got away with between three and five hundred thousand dollars. Regardless he was deported wearing a five hundred dollar suit and carrying luggage which if it wasn’t Gucci was in that class.
Not a bad wage for cleaning ashtrays.